[JURIST] A witness at the court-martial [JURIST report] of Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive] dog handler Sgt. Michael J. Smith told a military jury Tuesday that he saw Smith using his black Belgian shepherd to terrify two teenage detainees in the area of the prison reserved for women and juveniles and later heard him claim that he and another canine team were competing to see if the detainees would soil themselves, although the witness later said in cross-examination that he thought that was a joke. The testimony was broadly consistent with statements made by Private Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II, himself convicted [JURIST report] in 2004 of abusing Abu Ghraib detainees, at an Article 32 hearing in July when Frederick claimed [JURIST report] that Smith and the other dog-handler were competing to see who could frighten the most Iraqi detainees with their dogs when the animals bit and injured two prisoners.
Smith is facing 13 counts of maltreatment, assault, conspiracy to mistreat detainees and indecency that could amount to 29 1/2 years in prison. Prosecutors maintain that Smith and Sgt. Santos A. Cardona, the other dog handler whose trial begins May 22, were rogue military policemen. The defense insists that use of the dogs was authorized by superiors. AP has more.